Polk County's Leah Stockdale (9) battles to win control of the ball in Monday's win.

Polk County spent the final few minutes of Monday’s showdown with Madison with backup goalkeeper Kendall Hall in the game at forward, the Wolverines looking to give the sophomore a chance to score a goal.

It wasn’t a scenario for which Polk head coach Lennox Charles had planned.

The Wolverines scored first, last and often in between, stunning the 15th-ranked Patriots 9-2 in Wolverine Stadium and avenging a 4-3 loss earlier this season at Madison.

Just as importantly, the win moved Polk County (7-3, 4-1) into sole possession of second place in the Western Highlands Conference, a game behind undefeated Hendersonville. The Wolverines and Bearcats meet twice in the final 11 days of the regular season.

Polk County played sharply on offense from the outset, passing well and controlling midfield. The Wolverines also caught Madison (7-2, 4-2) coming off its spring break, and Charles took part of his postgame speech to point that out to the Wolverines, who will have their break next week.

He also kept shaking his head about the final result.

“That was nothing close to what I expected,” Charles said. “I just told the girls, that’s going to be you (after break). You have to decide how you want to end the season. Do you want to put some work in and do the things over break that will allow you to come back in decent shape?

“We were a lot better prepared for playing them than we were the first time.”

Polk County goalkeeper Malena Roman stops a shot during the first half of Monday's win.
Polk County goalkeeper Malena Roman stops a shot during the first half of Monday’s win.

Polk struck less than five minutes into the match, Cameron Capozzi putting a perfect header into the net off an Ashley Love throw-in. Madison answered to tie the game before the Wolverines took command, scoring four goals in a 20-minute span.

Capozzi started the flurry, tapping home a free kick into the right side of the net from Caroline Lee. Lee then added the next goal, firing a low rolling shot from outside the top of the penalty box that just beat the diving fingertips of Madison goalkeeper Izzy Patterson to make it 3-1.

Kicking into a wind that blew strongly at times, Patterson’s kick from goal a few moments later dropped short to Love, who dribbled into the penalty box alone and chipped a shot past a diving Patterson into the corner of the net. Freshman Reese Alley then capped the spurt with a hard drive off the right wing that gave Polk a 5-1 lead with just over five minutes remaining.

Madison’s Ellie McTaggart added her second goal of the half shortly after Alley’s goal to make it 5-2 at intermission.

Lee hammered a blast off the crossbar early in the second half, her second near-miss of the game, but Polk would soon again be on target. Lee fed Love with a cross-field header, and Love found the back of the net just seven minutes into the second half to make it 6-2.

Rhian Alley scored on a penalty kick, Georgia Garrett tallied on a short shot and Rhian Alley scored again on a hard drive with 9:14 remaining to round out the scoring.

Reese Alley and Baylee Love each had two assists, with Ashley Love, Bella Marino and Lee also notching assists.

Goalkeeper Malena Roman and the Wolverine defense also kept Madison’s Elissa Hurley, the conference player of the year last season, largely in check.

The Wolverines finish the week with games against Mountain Heritage and Mitchell, both of whom they defeated easily earlier this season, before heading off to break and returning for a tough six-game stretch to close the season.

“Assuming we do what we need to do Wednesday and Thursday, that will be a nice way to end this second third of the season,” Charles said.